By Bill Simmons
Page 2

Editor's Note: Page 2's Bill Simmons is filing round-the-clock reports from Jacksonville, Fla., in Super Blog II. Check back throughout the day for updates. Here are all his entries from Day 4:

DAY 1 | DAY 2 | DAY 3 | DAY 4 | DAY 5 | DAY 6 | DAY 7

  • Did you miss Media Day? What's wrong with you?

    Posted, Thursday, Feb. 3, 2005 -- 8:43 p.m.

    Remember when I wrote that "This could be the Super Bowl disaster by which all other Super Bowls will be compared"? Well, judging from the traffic tonight, I'd like to make a new prediction: This will be the first Super Bowl ever where 33 percent of the fans aren't even in their seats for the Opening Kickoff. Just wait until you see how this plays out. We'll be reading about it for weeks afterwards.

    Anyway, I've been in Jacksonville for exactly 72 hours. Here are some awards:

    Best House Specialty: Sweet Tea
    I know I've done my share of complaining about Jacksonville, but finding out about Sweet Tea made it all worth it. First, they make a batch of hot tea. Then they heat up sugar in a pan. Then they pour the hot sugar into the hot tea and let it caramelize. I'm telling you, this is the greatest drink of all-time -- like a combination of iced tea and heroin. I drank two glasses at Gene's Seafood on Tuesday, then went outside and picked up a Pontiac Firebird over my head.

    Strangest ongoing Super Bowl phenomenon: Radio Row
    This is the section of the Media Center where everyone does their radio shows. I liked the way they set it up this year, splitting it into four sections, with the biggies (WEEI, WFAN, 610, Rome, etc.) right in the front, and the more minor shows stuck on the side, or way in the back. It's a little like the setup at the Adult Video Convention, which I described in a column last year -- you have your best booths in the front, and then it starts getting seedier and seedier ... by the time you reach the back of the room, suddenly you're looking at bestiality videos and snuff films. It's like the ninth gate of hell. Radio Row isn't that bad, but it's close.

    Funniest Quote: My buddy Paul
    Striding into the Jacksonville airport on Monday, he glanced around in disgust, then muttered, "I'm gonna end up with genital warts this week." Let's see the Host Committee run that in one of their brochures.

    Longest wait for a taxi: Thursday afternoon
    After I finished my ESPN.com chat on Thursday morning, I walked down Bay Street to check out some of the merchandise shops, eventually ending up at The Landing -- the tourist-y section of downtown Jacksonville. After inhaling a Chick Fil-A sandwich (a Southern fast food specialty) and walking around, I headed back outside to catch a cab back to the hotel. Forty-five minutes later, I was still looking. Not a single cab. I'm not even kidding. And this was a pretty busy scene downtown. I can't wait until this weekend -- it's going to be like "Escape from New York."

    Best cab driver: Reggie
    He was the guy who picked me up -- I knew we were in good shape when Biggie Smalls was blasting from his radio. In 12 minutes, Reggie told me how Jimmy Johnson spurned his request for an autograph ("I'm a man, just like him!") and asked me if I was going to P. Diddy's party on Friday, leading to this exchange:

    Reggie (confidently): "I'm gonna be there."

    Me: "You are?"

    Reggie: "Yeah, I'm gonna be there. (Dramatic pause.) I'm gonna be outside in this cab!"

    Worst Location: The NFL Experience
    Remember when I wrote about last year's NFL Experience, or baseball's version of it last summer at the All-Star Game? Not this year. From what I can gather from the volunteers, it's located "across the river." When I asked if I could take a cab there, they told me, "Yeah, if you can find one." When I asked if there were any cabs there -- you know, so I had a way to leave when I was done -- they told me, "Yeah, maybe." Needless to say, I decided to skip the NFL Experience this year.

    Best hotel: The Adams Mark Hotel
    This is like handing out the award for "Most enjoyable Creed album" -- there isn't an upscale hotel in this entire city. But the Adams Mark seems like the nicest one. Although the Hilton has the best late-night bar scene. Still, nothing like the scene at the Icon in Houston last year.

    Coolest outfit: Michael Irvin
    At ESPN headquarters on Thursday, he was wearing a lizard-skin jacket with leather cargo pants. Thank God John Clayton didn't show up wearing the same thing -- that would have been awkward.

    Best weather: Tuesday
    Did you like the steady drizzle on Wednesday? What about the combination fog-and-drizzle on Thursday? Nah, I think I'll go with Tuesday -- dark, gloomy and Morrisey-esque. Super Bowl Week in a coma I know, I know ... it's serious ...

    Greatest Perk: WEEI
    Thanks to a sponsorship deal with Dunkin' Donuts, the Dennis & Callahan Show (morning show in Boston) gets free Dunkin' Donuts coffee and donuts delivered to them every day. Where can I get a sponsorship deal like that? Sign me up. Just the smell of Dunkin' Donuts coffee made me start flipping out like Chris Rock in "New Jack City." I nearly clotheslined Callahan when he told me they were out of cream. That reminds me ...

    Most dire situation: The coffee shortage in Jacksonville
    Forget about the lack of cabs -- this is 100 times worse. For instance, I'm staying in a hotel where the nearest coffee place is 8 minutes away ... and I don't have a rental car. If I end up dead or in jail this week, now you'll know why. Of course, when I was complaining to Peter King about it on Tuesday, that led to ...

    Most improbable coffee trip: Me and Peter King heading to Starbucks on Wednesday morning
    So I'm complaining to Peter at Media Day that I can't find a good cup of coffee anywhere, and he says, "Meet me in the lobby (of our hotel) at 7:30 tomorrow morning. I'll take you to Starbucks."

    Understand this about me: I would rather cut off one of my fingers before getting up at 7:30. It's just not in my blood. I can't even function before 8:00 a.m.; that's one of the reasons I'm doing this for a living. But if I have a choice between drinking crap coffee for seven straight days, or getting up early for a good coffee, I'm getting up when that alarm goes off. That's the bottom line.

    (Follow-up note here: Say what you want about Starbucks, but you will not find a stronger cup of coffee on the planet. I'm convinced they put crack in it. Seriously. Eighteen months ago, I hated Starbucks and everything it represented. Now I can't drink any other coffee without getting a headache. How can you explain this? I'm convinced we're headed for one of the biggest scandals ever here. And just for the record, Peter and I stayed for an hour talking football, and he ordered TWO grande hazelnut lattes during that time. No wonder he can do 400 call-in interviews in six hours -- the man is running on pure hazelnut.)

    Most inevitable e-mail: My mom
    You may remember me writing about her penchant for picking a new bottle of wine at every dinner. This morning, she sent me an e-mail with the subject heading, "The Jacksonville of Moms." Uh-oh. Here was her response to the column:

    Thanks for making me sound like a spoiled airhead. The least you could have said was that most of the time I pick great stuff.

    (Imagine having the guy from "Sideways" as your mom? That's me.)

    Guy who made me feel like I was in a TV show: The Fridge
    Hanging out with the guys from "Jimmy Kimmel Live" on Tuesday, I felt like I was the pilot of a show being pitched to HBO "as a cross between 'Larry Sanders' and 'Curb Your Enthusiasm!'" There was the Fridge, working for Jimmy's show as a "correspondent," sulking because he didn't want to stand up anymore. There was his agent, wearing a "17th annual Jim Kelly Celebrity Golf Tournament" windbreaker and Jeremy Piven's rug from "Entourage," complaining to the JKL guys that the Fridge was tired and wanted to go home. And we were standing outside the stadium trying to coerce one more take out of him. And when we finally got that last take, they angrily drove off on a golf cart. All we were missing were the closing credits.

    Funniest phone call: Me and Sully
    I never thought I would be on the phone, at the Super Bowl, convincing one of my good friends NOT to join me at the Super Bowl. But that's what happened this afternoon. Sully kept saying, "I have a ticket, I can even get a flight" and I kept saying, "Stay home, stay home, save yourself, dammit!" This place has turned me into Charlton Heston in "Soylent Green."

    Most egregious decision of the week: The ATM ripoff
    Would you believe me if I told you that the city of Jacksonville changed all the ATMs (excluding the ones in actual banks) so that A) it costs $5.00 for every ATM transaction fee, and B) you can only take out $100 at a time, and nothing more than that? Well, it's true. In other words, if you want to take out $300, it costs you an extra $15. Great city. Why not charge $5 a pop to use the port-o-johns? What about an "Airport Tax" or $25 for anyone leaving the city? Anyway, if you're coming down here, take out plenty of money beforehand.

    Most fruitless search: The Steelers AFC championship T-shirt
    You know how they make all the "AFC/NFC Championship" shirts ahead of time, then destroy the ones for the teams that ended up losing in those games? Sometimes they sell those for half-price during Super Bowl Week, so I walked down Bay Street (near the stadium) and went inside every "unofficial" NFL Merchandise store, hoping to find one for the Steelers that I could give to my friend Dave Dameshek -- the Pittsburgh native who proclaimed that the Steelers had "the best offense in football" two months ago. But I couldn't find one.

    And that brings me to my last point: If anyone from the NFL is reading this, do NOT destroy those T-shirts anymore. Not only are they a fantastic joke gift, as well as a subtle-yet-effective way to torture your friends, they make for a strangely satisfying memento for fans from the winning team. For example, right after Super Bowl XXXVI, I bought a Rams "2002 World Champions" T-shirt and matching cup that I still have to this day. It's one of my prized possessions, almost like a hunter keeping a deer's head over his fireplace. Anyway, stop destroying this stuff. I don't ask for much.

    **Coming tomorrow: More good times from Jacksonville!**

    Posted, Thursday, Feb. 3, 2005 -- 3:41 p.m.

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- After my laptop batteries ran out on the airplane to Jacksonville, I was playing one of those dopey "Dumb things to do to keep your brain occupied" games and realized that it could make a fun entry for Super Blog II. Here's the test: Off the top of your head, can you name the teams, the score and the MVP from every Super Bowl? Feel free to play along; we'll run the answers below.

    Here's the first part of my noble attempt (Super Bowls 1 thru 20), along with my first recollection of each game (and I swear on Willie McGinest's life that I didn't cheat).

    SUPER BOWL I
    Green Bay 34, Kansas City 10 (MVP: Bart Starr)

    I just remember the Max McGee story -- he got hammered the night before, ended up catching two touchdowns, and everyone loved him for it. Imagine if this happened now? Say Bethel Johnson gets bombed in Jacksonville on Saturday night, gets two hours of sleep, ends up being the star of the game and brags about being hungover in the postgame press conference. Can you imagine the reaction? I think Skip Bayless' head would explode. That would be a fun game show -- "Hypotheticals that would make Skip Bayless' head explode."

    Correct answer: Green Bay 35, Kansas City 10 (MVP: Starr)

    SUPER BOWL II
    Green Bay 24, Minnesota 7 (MVP: Starr)

    I'm a little hazy on this one.

    Correct answer: Green Bay 33, Oakland 14 (MVP: Starr)

    SUPER BOWL III
    N.Y. Jets 16, Baltimore 7 (MVP: Joe Namath)

    Four watershed moments here:
    1. The Jets covering the highest line in playoff history (something like 17 points).
    2. Namath's famous guarantee (back in the days when you didn't do those types of things).
    3. This was the last time Jets fans were remotely happy.
    4. This set the stage for IwannakissyouGate 34 years later.

    Correct answer: N.Y. Jets 16, Baltimore 7 (MVP: Namath)

    SUPER BOWL IV
    Kansas City 31, Minnesota 7 (MVP: Len Dawson)

    If this was "Who Wants to be a Millionaire," I would have used my first lifeline for this one. I vaguely remember Dawson winning an MVP, which eventually landed him the gig with Nick Buoniconti on "Inside the NFL," which led to the funniest running segment of the '80s and '90s, when they would pick every game without spreads -- leading to those moments where the Cowboys would be 17-point favorites against the Cardinals and Len would say, in all seriousness, "Nick, I have to go with the Cowboys in this one," like it was a 50-50 pick. That always killed me.

    Correct answer: Kansas City 23, Minnesota 7 (MVP: Dawson)

    SUPER BOWL V
    Baltimore 16, Dallas 13 (MVP: Wes Unseld)

    Two memories here: Duane Thomas becomes the first "Annoying Super Bowl Guy Who Receives Way Too Much Attention"; really, the forefather to Freddie Mitchell, when you think about it. And Sixers coach Jim O'Brien makes the anti-climactic game-winning field goal, which was the only game-winner ever until Patriots closer Adam Vinatieri stepped onto the big stage.

    Correct answer: Baltimore 16, Dallas 13 (MVP: Chuck Howley)

    SUPER BOWL VI
    Dallas 16, Miami 6 (MVP: Roger Staubach)

    That's a complete guess.

    Correct answer: Dallas 24, Miami 3 (MVP: Staubach)

    SUPER BOWL VII
    Miami 14, Washington 7 (MVP: Jake Scott)

    Forget the undefeated season for the Dolphins -- this was the game that clinched Hall of Fame status on the Unintentional Comedy Scale for Garo Yepremian, the most famous Armenian in Super Bowl history.

    Correct answer: Miami 14, Washington 7 (MVP: Scott)

    SUPER BOWL VIII
    Miami 24, Dallas 14 (MVP: Bob Griese)

    The Dolphins win their second straight, then Csonka and Kiick flee to the WFL -- which was a shame because it was always fun to hear Don Shula say "Csonka."

    Correct answer: Miami 24, Minnesota 7 (MVP: Larry Csonka)

    SUPER BOWL IX
    Pittsburgh 21, Minnesota 10 (MVP: Terry Bradshaw)

    Wow. I'm drawing a blank. This was the last Super Bowl I can't remember watching. Regis, I think this is my final answer.

    Correct answer: Pittsburgh 16, Minnesota 6 (MVP: Franco Harris)

    SUPER BOWL X
    Pittsburgh 21, Dallas 17 (MVP: Lynn Swann)

    The Super Bowl that launched a million bandwagons -- this game spawned more budding Cowboys and Steelers fans than we possibly could have wanted. It's funny to hear their explanations after the fact, always stuff like "I just liked their uniforms" and "My favorite player was (fill in a cool black player on either team)." Nobody ever sucks it up and says, "Hey, I just wanted to root for a winner, whaddya want me from me?"

    (By the way, I was one of probably three million-plus kids who went outside after this game, tossed a football in the air and practiced the diving/juggling Lynn Swann catch over and over again.)

    Correct answer: Pittsburgh 21, Dallas 17 (MVP:Swann)

    SUPER BOWL XI
    Oakland 34, Minnesota 16 (MVP: Kenny Stabler)

    Bittersweet game for me (and every other Pats fan) since we had the Raiders beaten in Round One, then Ben Dreith called that famous roughing-the-passer penalty on Sugar Bear Hamilton -- which was traumatizing when you're in elementary school and you can't possibly understand why the better team didn't advance. I remember switching my allegiance to Sammy White (who was wildly likable this season) and the Vikings, then White was nearly beheaded during the game. Bad times all around. Then again, without winning a Super Bowl, maybe Madden never gets hired at CBS, and maybe the "Madden" video games never happen. So everything happens for a reason.

    Correct answer: Oakland 32, Minnesota 14 (MVP: Fred Biletnikoff)

    SUPER BOWL XII
    Dallas 27, Denver 7 (MVP: Randy White and Harvey Martin)

    I just remember the orange Bronco uniforms and Craig Morton getting sacked like 30 times. In the words of Warner Wolf, "What started out as a joke has turned into a disaster ..."

    Correct answer: Dallas 27, Denver 10 (MVP: White and Martin)

    SUPER BOWL XIII
    Pittsburgh 35, Dallas 31 (MVP: Bradshaw)

    The Jackie Smith Game. Also the first truly great Super Bowl game from beginning to end -- I just remember the whole thing seeming like a bigger deal after this one. More importantly, this was the game that turned into a legendary apocalypse for the casinos in Vegas -- they started the line out at 3½, the Pittsburgh money moved it one point, and as soon as it went to 4½, a late influx of Dallas money brought it back down to 4. So Vegas lost on all the early Steelers bets and all the late Cowboys bets, then pushed on everything else. Now THAT is a disaster. Like two years later, the great Pete Axthelm described these events in detail in his gambling column for Inside Sports ... the column that made me fall in love with gambling. So there you go.

    Correct answer: Pittsburgh 35, Dallas 31 (MVP: Bradshaw)

    SUPER BOWL XIV
    Pittsburgh 31, L.A. Rams 19 (MVP: John Stallworth)

    My parents had just separated, my Aunt Linda was living with my mom and me, and she was IN LOVE with Vince Ferragamo. That's all I remember. Looking back, Pittsburgh became the City of Champions (thanks to the Steelers and Pirates), USA 4, USSR 3 happened like two weeks later, and this was the rookie season for Bird and Magic, plus Leonard-Duran I was in the works. Pretty good sports month.

    Correct answer: Pittsburgh 31, L.A. Rams 19 (MVP: Bradshaw)

    SUPER BOWL XV
    Oakland 34, Philadelphia 13 (MVP: Jim Plunkett)

    This was especially galling because Plunkett stunk on the Patriots during the '70s, and they went 2-14 this season while Plunkett won the MVP. I distinctly remember this making me angry at the time. One other memory: Harold Carmichael, the tall Philly receiver who used to catch the alley-oop passes. Why wouldn't an NFL team experiment with this again? If I was an NFL GM, I would sign Stromile Swift to a $40 million contract. How could anyone stop him?

    Correct answer: Oakland 27, Philadelphia 10 (MVP: Plunkett)

    SUPER BOWL XVI
    San Fran 20, Cincy 16 (MVP: Joe Montana)

    Good game, great ending. And Montana's greatest moments were yet to come: Including three more Super Bowls and the "I'm going upstairs to masturbate" sketch on SNL.

    Correct answer: San Fran 26, Cincy 21 (MVP: Montana)

    SUPER BOWL XVII
    Oakland 38, Washington 9 (MVP: Marcus Allen)

    Two famous plays: Allen's cut-against-the-grain run, and Theismann's horrendous INT to Jack Squirek. You want to talk about a guy who shouldn't have thrown that pass? You want to talk about a terrible mistake? Watch what Theismann does here -- HE DOESN'T SEE HIM! Watch this, watch him throw this ball, watch this -- DOINK! Right to him!

    Correct answer: Washington 27, Miami 17 (MVP: John Riggins)

    SUPER BOWL XVIII
    Washington 24, Miami 14 (MVP: Riggins)

    Every Super Bowl has a label: The Yepremian Game, the Namath Game, the Eugene Robinson Game ... this one was the Riggins Game.

    Correct answer: Los Angeles Raiders 38, Washington 9 (MVP: Allen)

    SUPER BOWL XIX
    San Francisco 34, Miami 17 (MVP: Montana)

    Montana vs. Marino ... was there anything memorable about this one? Or was this the winter when we first got HBO and everything else was a little hazy because "Hot Dog: The Movie" was showing every night? I dunno.

    Correct answer: San Francisco 38, Miami 16 (MVP: Montana)

    SUPER BOWL XX
    Chicago 45, New England 10 (MVP: Richard Dent)

    I can honestly say that this was one of the worst 50 days of my entire life.

    Correct answer: Chicago 46, New England 10 (MVP: Dent)

    FINAL TALLY:
    Winners: 18 of 20
    Score: 7 of 20
    MVP: 14 of 20

    **COMING LATER THIS WEEK: PART TWO**

    Bill Simmons is a columnist for Page 2 and ESPN The Magazine. His Sports Guy's World site is updated every day Monday through Friday.




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